SIR – In early February, I attended the annual sheep farmers’ meeting in Ballylickey. As a drystock cattle farmer, I wanted to learn more about the challenges my colleagues face – and look for their input as I help develop the Social Democrats’ agriculture policy.
The consensus at the meeting was that, without increased payments and generational renewal, the industry will fail. Teagasc’s warning of a post-Brexit 10% decrease in CAP payments makes it hard not to worry – some farms are drawing down payments and not stocking any animals for fear it will cost them.
There is something intrinsically wrong the system that’s causing this. An increase in CAP would be hugely beneficial, but we need to address the more fundamental problem: retailers and factories are making a profit at the expense of struggling farmers.
We need food to survive, yet as farmers we are undervalued and underpaid. My generation is disincentivized from staying in farming and that has to change – we desperately need new policies, where farmers are paid a fair price for their work and where rural communities are supported to protect the landscape we all depend on.
We need to listen to farming communities and start coming up with intelligent, sustainable solutions for the future of the farming industry in Ireland.